Pastor Uses Photo of Lynchings to Get Out the Vote

Rev. Joy Thornton fights voter complacency with graphic imagery.

Posted: 09/14/2012 09:31 AM EDT

A minister in Indiana is taking a novel approach to getting people to the polls come Nov. 6.

Rev. Joy Thornton, the senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, is using an image of the lynching of two Black teenagers from 1930 to get people to the polls.

Writes NBC News

The sign, which has stood for nearly a week along the street in front of the church, shows, on one side, a white mob gathered around the teens to watch the lynching in Marion, Ind. Atop the photo is the word “VOTE!!!” Beneath it is the question: “Is this a reason to vote?” The other side of the sign shows an image of slaves in chains, with wording beneath it that reads, “Lest we forget.”

“[The sign] is to let people know there’s been a price paid for the privilege of voting,” Thornton, a Black pastor of what he describes as a multiracial congregation, told Indianapolis' WISH TV. “Oftentimes people get complacent and don’t realize that people made a sacrifice, matter of fact, the ultimate sacrifice for such a privilege.”


Thornton said the sign isn’t meant to sway voters to vote for any particular party, but rather to urge participation in November's presidential election. He said he believes some Black voters have grown complacent because of President Obama's stance on same-sex marriage.

“Regardless of who you vote for, you need to exercise your privilege, which is voting,” Thornton said.

In an age when the NAACP and other rights organizations say the right to vote is under attack, Thornton's actions may be just the thing to remind people in his community of the many lives lost in the fight to win Blacks the right to vote in free and fair elections.

What do you think? Has Rev. Thornton gone too far with his poster?

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(Photo: NBC News)

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